Managing Kids Expectations at Christmas

By Tracey Dowdy

Christmas is heralded as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but if you’re the one managing the family budget, a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way. If you’re managing the budget and your children’s expectations, there’s a good chance you’re sometimes made to feel like the Grinch.

So how do you manage expectations when everywhere you turn is another ad or marketing ploy targeting your children? It’s not easy, but these tips can help.

As with so many other parenting tips, start with a conversation. Obviously, that conversation is going to look different for your three-year-old versus your 13-year-old, but being clear ahead of time can help mitigate Christmas morning meltdowns.

For toddlers who are learning to share, explain that while they might like an infinite number of gifts, if they had them all, there wouldn’t be enough for all the other children. Use this as another teachable moment, reinforcing what you’ve been encouraging them to learn all along. For older children, remind them there is a limit to what you can – and will – spend. Part of maturing is learning to manage money and budgets – make it a teachable moment for them (and maybe yourself) too.

For toddlers, who often have more toys than they play with, encourage a “one in, one out” rule. For every new toy they receive, find an old toy (in good condition) to donate. Again, you’re teaching them to not only think of themselves but those around them.

For older kids, sit down with them and talk about their lists. Often they’ll include electronics and upgraded tech. If the cost is unreasonable or exceeds what you’re willing and able to spend, talk about prioritizing their wish list or giving them money towards the item so they can save up for it themselves.

The key is to be the example. As the parent, you set the tone for the holidays through your attitude and expectations. If you go in anticipating a holiday worthy of a Hallmark movie, you’re likely to be disappointed and frustrated. Those kind of holidays only happen in the pages of books or on the screen. Instead, help your kids see the bigger picture – that Christmas truly is about giving, not receiving. Volunteer at a shelter, bake cookies for a shut-in or send cards and care packages to soldiers overseas. In doing so, you’ll capture the spirit of the season, and grab some of that Hallmark magic you’ve been searching for along the way.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next post thanks once again.

  2. I think that is one of the so much significant information for me.
    And i am happy reading your article. But wanna
    statement on few basic things, The web site taste is ideal,
    the articles is truly nice : D. Just right task, cheers

  3. Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next write ups thanks once

  4. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book
    in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message
    home a little bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  5. Hi i am kavin, its my first time to commenting
    anyplace, when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to
    this sensible piece of writing.

  6. I got this website from my pal who shared with me about this web site and now
    this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative articles or reviews
    at this time.

  7. Howdy very nice web site!! Man .. Excellent ..
    Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds
    also? I am satisfied to search out so many useful information here
    within the submit, we want develop more strategies in this regard,
    thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  8. I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage!

    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve included you guys to blogroll.

  9. Your mode of explaining the whole thing in this piece of writing
    is really nice, all be capable of without difficulty
    know it, Thanks a lot.

  10. Nice blog here! Also your site loads up very
    fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?

    I wish my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  11. Spot on with this write-up, I actually feel this web
    site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning
    to see more, thanks for the info!

  12. Excellent site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like
    yours these days. I really appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!

  13. Good day very cool web site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
    I will bookmark your website and take the feeds
    additionally? I’m happy to find numerous helpful information here in the publish,
    we want develop extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

    my site; poker online

  14. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop,
    just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  15. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the
    book in it or something. I think that you can do
    with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that,
    this is excellent blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

  16. I think this is one of the most vital information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The website style is wonderful,
    the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  17. Article writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with after that
    you can write or else it is complicated to write.

  18. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Yoour favorite justification appeared to be at the net the
    easiest factor too understand of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst other people think about concerns thaat they plainly don’t recognise about.
    You managed to hit the nawil upon the highest and outpined out the
    whole thing with no need side effect , other people can take a signal.
    Willl probably be back to get more. Thanks

    Takke a look at my blog – Chaturbate69

  19. Does your site have a contfact page? I’m having a tough time locating it
    but, I’d likke to shoot you an e-mail. I’ve got
    some recommendations for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

    My website ::

  20. My partner and I absolutely love your blog
    and find most of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking for.

    Would you offer guest writers to write content in your case?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on most of
    the subjects you write in relation to here.
    Again, awesome web site!

    Feel free to visit my webpage :: spam

  21. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I
    encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something too few folks are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy that I found this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  22. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed surfing
    around your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing for your rss feed and I am hoping you write
    once more soon!

  23. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss
    this matter here on your internet site.

  24. Hey there! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website such as yours require a large amount of work?

    I am completely new to operating a blog but I do write in my
    journal everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog
    owners. Thankyou!

  25. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get got an nervousness over that you wish be
    delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case
    you shield this increase.

  26. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.

    I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this
    is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *